Letting go of some thrift

The Peace and Justice Commission team and volunteers posing after a training workshop.

One thing I appreciate about my U.S. Mennonite heritage is the emphasis that is placed on good stewardship, simple living, and thrift. These concepts help us to be faithful followers of Christ by encouraging us to be mindful of the way we use our wealth and material resources. The concept of simple living recognizes that as children of God we are called to care from creation by limiting our consumption and that the accummlation of “things” often distracts us from seeking God’s kingdom.

As I am grateful for these lessons, I am have also been learning from my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters that taking thrift too seriously can sometimes limit our experience of the abundance of God’s kingdom.

I recently traveled with my co-workers Meriluz and Miriam to the town of La Paz, Carazo to give a talk on child abuse prevention at a pre-school. La Paz is about 2 hours outside of Managua and we agreed to meet early at the bus station so we could get their on time. Being the good, thrifty Mennonite that I am, I woke up extra early to eat a hearty breakfast, filled up my water bottle, and set off on the way to the bus station determined not to spend any more on the trip than was absolutely necesary.

When I arrived at the bus station to meet Meriluz I was surprised to find that Miriam was there as well. Miriam has volunteered with the Peace and Justice Commission for several years when she can get away from her arduous job working ten hour days selling clothes at the Mercado Orriental, Central America’s largest open air market.

My Mennonite upbringing told me that Miriam should be even more thrifty and concerned about money than me, as her resources are more scarce. However, as we strarted our journey to La Paz it was quickly evident that Miriam and I didn’t think the same way.

After only a few minutes in the bus Miriam pulled out candy from her bag and passed some around to each of us. When we arrived in La Paz and sat for a rest in the park before making our way on the church Miriam surprises me with the tortillas and cheese that she pulls out of her bag. Passing some to Meriluz and I, she is glad to share. I accepted eagerly as my hearty breakfast was already starting to wear off. As we all started to partake of the cheese and tortillas Meriluz sighs and says, “This would be great with some coffee.” Miriam agrees and buys all three of us coffee to accompany our morning snack.

As I ate I reflected on my morning thrifty thought process. My good intentions now seemed a bit selfish and individualistic. Miriam had packed for the day thinking of everyone that was going to be on the journey, she brought enough to share, and then when coffee seemed like just the thing, she didn’t hesitate to spend the money to make our snack that much richer.

Miriam’s generous gifts during the day made our journey more enjoyable and reminded me that thrift can sometimes limit our experience of the abundance of God’s kingdom when it keeps us from being ready and willing to share with others.

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4 Comments on “Letting go of some thrift”

  1. Aimee Says:

    Excellent post!! Miss you both!

  2. Kevin Says:

    Good stuff Adam! If you want to treat us to dinner this Friday, let us know šŸ™‚

  3. Charissa Says:

    thoughtful post! i have learned so much too from the generosity of Hondurans and dividing even the smallest bag of churros into 7 or 8 servings for everyone present. Good lessons in thrift and also being generous with anything and everything God has given us.

  4. Alan & Beth Says:

    This post is right on the money. šŸ™‚

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